Species / International Ovis

Putorana Snow Sheep

Ovis nivicola borealis


An isolated, far-western population in the Putorana (Norilsk and Syverma) Mountains between the Piasina and Khatanga rivers near the base of the Taimyr Peninsula in north-central Siberia. They are about 600 miles from any other snow sheep.


The Putorana subspecies is not well-known. We have seen no body measurements or weights, but the animal appears to be similar in size to other snow sheep. The winter coat is a uniform dark grayish-brown color, with a white belly and large white rump patch. Legs are dark like the body. Inside of the ears is white. There are whitish areas on the face and crown, but these vary with the individual from a little white to all white. The horns are similar to those of other snow sheep.


Steep, rugged terrain with nearby grassy pastures, in alpine and arctic regions.


There are only five entries for the Putorana snow sheep in the SCI Record Book; three of which were taken on an unchartered expedition in August1995, one in August 1996 and the last in July 2000. The city of Norilsk was closed in November 2001 to all non-Russians, except for Belarusians. Nickel ore is smelted on site at Norilsk. The smelting is directly responsible for severe pollution, generally acid rain and smog. By some estimates, 1% of global emissions of sulfur dioxide come from there. Norilsk is recognized by the Russian Government as the most polluted city in the entire country. Mining and smelting ore are the major industries and Norilsk is the center of a region where nickel, copper, cobalt, platinum, palladium and coal are mined.

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